I guess we have to admit that in 2021, you can’t just describe video games as “indie”. If earlier this word meant some common features, now even a small team of developers are able to surpass well-known industry veterans. That’s great, but sheer talent and a little ingenuity can give a game a world that’s not inferior to even the blockbusters of leading publishers. That’s why the story Hit: Spirit Bridge Very interesting: this was a project from a small studio in Los Angeles with 15 people, but with the help of strong marketing, it turned into one of the fall’s most iconic releases.
I could go on and on about how the industry debutants signed exclusive deals with Sony and exceeded all of our expectations, but I won’t – it’s all available online. I’m just going to talk about the game itself, which caught my interest from the first trailer.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits tells the story of Kena, a young spirit mentor who helps the dead leave the world of the living and go to the world of spirits. In the course of his adventures, he meets a villain who is trying to destroy all living things and a cute little helper who helps him with puzzles and enemies.
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I would describe the novelty as an action-adventure with puzzle elements. When creating it, the developers were clearly inspired by series like Pikmin and The Legend of Zelda. With the former, “Kenu” is accompanied by a cute assistant who helps solve puzzles and damage monsters during battle. With the second – a beautiful big world with interesting inhabitants and many secrets.
Like many games on a platform that is still very new, Kena: Bridge of Spirits makes a strong impression thanks to its graphics. Clear and saturated images, beautiful animations and screensavers, which journalists again, for the hundredth time, compare with cartoons from Pixar – all this tells us that this is not a cheap project. And when it costs only $39.99, you immediately think it’s cool. And that’s cool, but…
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All great games have one thing in common: their developers take risks. They deliberately chose a path that could turn off a lot of their potential audience. But Kena: Bridge of Spirits is, for all its positives, as innocent as it gets. He doesn’t have fresh ideas, he doesn’t take risks. It is a platformer with elements of action and puzzles. Comparisons with other games are suggested from the very first minute. No plot twists to speak of. This is a cute and bright toy that aims to please everyone. The most interesting thing isn’t even the game itself, but how is it made.
All of this got me thinking about the question, is it really that interesting to play? Beautiful – yes. Soap is like that too. But when cool new products come out almost every day, is it worth buying this one? Here, it doesn’t all depend on how good the game is, but how much you like this specific mix of genres. I myself have grown tired of dreary, realistic releases and have always been happy with the more cartoonish approach in Nintendo’s spirit. You can even bet that among the “Nintendo-like” releases, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is one of the best. Better than Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. But no matter how slick it is, it’s not going to help it stay relevant.
Maybe I’m too critical and my thinking is too abstract. In the end, what does it matter, a unique game idea or not? The main thing, as the great Iwata said, is to have fun. So, is it fun? It seems! At times I was tempted to go back, and at times laziness overtook me, and I didn’t even want to think about another battle with the demons. The combat here is primitive: light attack, heavy attack, counterattack at the right time. Spirits also help if you “fill” them. Such a battle system is normal, but for the tenth time I don’t want to beat anyone with my stick. The enemy began to appear to me as nothing more than an obstacle slowing my progress. However, what other functions can enemies perform in video games?
“Ken” has all the elements of a modern game. Upgrade system? Here, and even in Far Cry 6 No! An open map with the ability to move freely on it? Also here. Customized little spirits that can be dressed up with different cute hats? In fact it exists. And there is a photo mode – who will refuse free advertising on social networks?
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Kena: Bridge of Spirits is innocent and sure to remind you of wonderful nights spent with Spyro or The Wind Waker. I don’t even know what I’m most excited about – playing a new game or realizing the fact that now even a small studio can release something like this. Now, when big publishers are less likely to take risks and increasingly poisoning their releases with microtransactions, you want to trust that indie won’t be disappointed. The main thing is that they themselves should be a little more daring.
Hit: Spirit Bridge It’s gorgeous, and the gameplay is a mix of time-tested mechanics. With a smile on his face and a very friendly attitude towards the world, Kena hopes to become the star of the new game, but to remember, you have to stand out. And this is the problem with new products – they take the best from everywhere, but forget to add something of their own.